News Roundup for January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017

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J Street in the News

Can the Two-State Solution Survive in the Age of Trump, Jerusalem Post

“Jewish American organizations that have been advocating for the two-state solution are confident the idea will live on despite the installation of Donald Trump as US president. ‘The two-state solution wasn’t achieved in the last administration or the one before that, and it may not be achieved in this one either, but it doesn’t mean that the idea dies, because it remains the only actual functioning, viable solution that anyone has put forward,’ Alan Elsner, special adviser to the president of J Street, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Elsner said out that while the Trump administration’s policy regarding the Israeli- Palestinian conflict has not yet been clearly formulated, some of the new president’s moves, such as nominating David Friedman, a supporter of settlements, as ambassador to Israel, are worrying. ‘I think everyone thinks in a kind of short-term way, especially now when a tweet has kind of a half-life of a few seconds,’ he explained. ‘But there are ideas that are powerful and true and just. They happen when the time comes and when the leaders are there who are willing to have the courage to implement them.’”

The Moral Underpinnings Of A Two-State Solution, Huffington Post

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “For every idea that is strong enough to survive there comes a moment. I believe that the moment for the two-state solution will come because eventually both sides will realize they have no other choice and that the status quo will become intolerable. The moment may come in five years, it may take longer. But ideas, unlike mortals, have the power to persist for generations, centuries and even millennia when they stand on the fundamental human principles of peace and justice. This is an idea that is too strong to die. Eventually, it will offer a better life to both peoples.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Enthusiastic Embrace of President Trump – and Why It Might Be Dangerous, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “I met some worried American Jewish acquaintances at the Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv this week. They seemed troubled. These are people who visit Israel frequently, who know it well and support it, who are well acquainted with the political situation and who understand, or at least thought they did, the local mood. Nonetheless, they were astonished by the intensity of support for Donald Trump they encountered, in random conversations and in meetings with high officials….You’re playing with fire, my frustrated interlocutors warned, clearly despondent by now. The same message was conveyed inside the INSS conference auditorium by noted political scientist and brilliant thinker Walter Russell Mead, who warned Israel not to embrace Trump too strongly lest it is irrevocably stained in the eyes of American public opinion. Former U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk was bleaker by far: For the first time in my life, he said, I am concerned about the future of the Jewish people, in America and in Israel. The Jewish people, he explained, have prospered and thrived within the established Western order that has existed since the end of World War II. Trump is coming to the White House just as that order is under threat, for a variety of reasons, and he may bring the entire structure crashing down. But who cares if the Jewish people survive or don’t survive, I thought to myself, as long as Trump allows us to build a few more apartments in Beit El?”

The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned, Washington Post

Josh Rogin reports, “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”

Trump: ‘Too Early’ to Talk About Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Haaretz

“President Trump said in an interview Thursday night that it was “too early” for him to comment publicly on moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Speaking with Fox News, Trump replied to a question on the subject by saying: ‘I don’t want to talk about it yet. It’s too early.’ The president was asked during the interview how he planned to repair what was described as the ‘damage to the relationship with Israel,’ and replied that ties were mended once he took office. ‘It was repaired right away,’ he claimed. Trump spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week and the two are expected to meet in Washington early February.”


Additional 153 housing units approved for eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood, JTA

A Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved the construction of 153 housing units in a Jewish neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem. The permissions Thursday for the Gilo neighborhood follow days after construction was approved for 566 housing units in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot, Ramat Shlomo and Pisgat Zeev, and two days after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans for 2,500 housing units in the West Bank.

Senior Official From Marine Le Pen’s Party Visits Israel, Meets With Ruling Party Member, Haaretz

The secretary-general of France’s National Front party, Nicolas Bay, arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a visit, during which he will meet with members of the French community here and met with Young Likud chairman David Shayan. The visit by an official from the party headed by Marine Le Pen, less than three months before France’s presidential election, is highly unusual. The Israeli government officially boycotts the National Front, many of whose members hold anti-Semitic views.

Israeli forces deliver demolition notices in the Negev, Ma’an

Israeli authorities escorted by Israeli police delivered demolition orders in a number of Palestinian villages in the Negev in southern Israel.

Netanyahu, Giuliani meet in run-up to summit with Trump, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with former New York City mayor and confidant ofPresident Trump Rudy Giuliani Thursday morning, with the Prime Minister’s Office saying in a statement that Giuliani delivered a personal message from Trump to the prime minister in anticipation of their scheduled meeting in early February.

Netanyahu to Be Questioned by Police Over Alleged Corruption for Third Time on Friday, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be questioned on Friday by police investigators at his residence in Jerusalem regarding two pending investigations against him.

Ahead of Deadline, Israel Scrambles to Explain Failure to Uphold Western Wall Promise, Haaretz

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit convened a critical meeting on Thursday afternoon to formulate the state’s response to a question that has baffled and angered many in the Jewish world: Why has the government not fulfilled its commitment to set aside a section of the Western Wall for egalitarian prayer services? The High Court – responding to a petition by the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel, as well as Women of the Wall, the multi-denominational feminist prayer group – has given the state until next Wednesday to deliver its answer.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Xenophobic Refugee Policies Violate Jewish Values, International Human Rights Law, Haaretz

Robert Bank writes, “As Jews, we are all too familiar with hateful statements about religious and ethnic minorities that aim to strip people of their dignity and humanity — and can lead to far worse. We understand from millennia of persecution of Jews by governments, religious institutions and populist demagogues that we cannot stand idly by while either we or other ethnic and religious minorities are under attack simply for being who they are. Tragically, we know what can happen when a community is vilified by authoritarian powers, and we regret that President Trump does not appreciate this lesson from the darkest chapters in Jewish and world history. In his first days in office it is now incumbent upon us to speak out and teach Mr. Trump about American values and the lessons of Jewish history. “

Too many lines are being drawn, Washington Jewish Week

J Street Board member Dan Kohl and ZOA member Adam August write, “One of us is Orthodox; the other Reform. One of us is active in J Street and the other is a member of the Zionist Organization of America. On matters relating to peace and security in Israel our perspectives are vastly different. Yet the two of us find common ground when talking about our travels to Israel, and when discussing Jewish matters more generally….One of us is Orthodox; the other Reform. One of us is active in J Street and the other is a member of the Zionist Organization of America. On matters relating to peace and security in Israel our perspectives are vastly different. Yet the two of us find common ground when talking about our travels to Israel, and when discussing Jewish matters more generally.”

The Dangers of Annexing the West Bank, Haaretz

Shaul Arieli writes, “Last week the group Commanders for Israel’s Security kicked off a campaign warning about the dangers of annexing land in the West Bank and arguing the merits of separation. The commanders, I among them, can see the reality taking form right in front of us. We seek only to warn the Zionist public against the unilateral annexation that the government is initiating. In the name of messianic nationalism, these steps threaten the Zionist vision of a democratic state for the Jewish people with equal rights for all. Israelis can’t know for certain what it would look like if and when a two-state solution is adopted, but a ‘one state’ future can already be seen in ‘united Jerusalem.’ Once a developing city with a decisive Jewish majority recognized de facto by the international community, it has become a city marred by rifts and violence, a desperately poor city losing its Jewish majority and the international recognition it wants so badly.”

Why We Must Fight Trump’s Repugnant Immigration Policies, Forward

Rabbi Daniel Stein, “Americans—regardless of political affiliation—should be scandalized that a president, in his first week in office, would seek to use immigration policies in ways that discriminate against Muslims, Hispanics, and people fleeing political violence. Such policies not only recall the darkest hours in our history, but also go against the core values of our country. In 1790, George Washington famously wrote to the Jewish community in Newport, Rhode Island: ‘The Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.’”

Israel Increasingly ‘Divisive’ Among American Jews, Study Shows, Haaretz

“As American Jews become more engaged with Israel, they also become increasingly divided in their attitudes toward the country, a research study published on Thursday by a former Israeli diplomat claims. ‘Herein lies a paradox: The more that American Jews visit Israel, read about Israel, develop and understanding of the complexities and nuances of Israeli politics, policies, and society, the more engaged they are,’ writes Alon Pinkas, former consul-general in New York and adviser to three foreign ministers.”

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